A patio with a surface of bricks or concrete paving blocks is weather-resistant and enduring. Because the brick or concrete pavers are small and uniform in size, such a patio is also easy to install and maintain.
Standing water and changing temperatures are tough on brick patios; buy paving bricks, which are stronger than those used to build vertical structures. As shown opposite, you can combine them in a number of patterns. Molded concrete paving blocks, on the other hand, are designed to interlock.
Wear hard-toed shoes when you are transporting brick or concrete pavers. If you are working with mortar, leather-palmed work gloves will protect your hands from irritants.
Both brick and concrete pavers may be set on a tightly compacted bed of sand (pages 122-126) or on a concrete slab with mortar (page 127). Sand is self-draining and lets the pavers move independently as the earth shifts, and pavers set on sand can be leveled or replaced individually. Patios of mortared bricks or blocks, however, last longer, need less upkeep, and rarely have weeds.
Whether the pavers are on sand or concrete, moss may be a problem. Although it can be attractive, moss can also be a slippery hazard. To eliminate it, apply moss killer, sold at garden-supply stores. If your patio develops mildew stains, scrub it with household bleach. Finally, weeds can grow between pavers laid on sand, even when a weed-control barrier has been placed underneath. If that happens, you may need to spray all gaps with herbicide, taking care not to spray near trees and other desirable plants.
The paving brick at near right measures about 3⅝ inches wide by 7⅝ inches long; these dimensions allow for ample mortar joints between bricks. You can also purchase paving bricks like the one above it, which is exactly twice as long as it is wide. For use on a sand bed, these bricks fit together without gaps to help keep weeds from poking through. In climates where the ground freezes, use paving bricks that are rated SX, which means they can withstand severe weather.
Molded concrete paving blocks come in numerous shapes; the three shown at left are among the more common. Because the blocks are laid down in interlocking patterns, they are less likely to shift position during or after installation.
An emphasis on regularity
You can set rectangular bricks in any of the four classic patterns shown above, or combine the patterns to give varied surface designs. Avoid the stack-bond arrangement for large patios, since it is difficult to align; instead, frame other patterns with a stack-bond border. A running-bond pattern, in which the bricks are staggered, is easier to lay uniformly over a broad area. Interlocking patterns like basket weave and herringbone, in which brick orientation varies, increase the durability of a sand-bed patio, since each brick is held in place by its neighbors. The basket weave above has brick faces exposed; another version has the bricks set on their sides, three to a square. Herringbone, with its directional nature, is useful for directing a viewer’s eye to a particular spot.
Layouts based on circles.
To accommodate a tree, a fountain, or other fixed object, lay a circular pattern (above, left). Begin at the center with two rings of half bricks, then add rings of full-size bricks to fill an area of any size (page 124). A scalloped effect like that used on European boulevards (above, right) is achieved with overlapping arcs of brick as shown on page 126. Loosely fill the scallops with whole and half bricks.